“Buy nine pretzels, get the tenth free.” This was the way customers were first introduced to customer loyalty programs. As time went on, some businesses chose to issue an electronic card for earning points. The card was tied to a website, where customers could login and check balances at any time.
The problem with loyalty cards, in general, is that over time those cards add up. As much as a small business would like to assume customers only ever dine, shop, or use the services of their location, that simply isn’t the case. So a customer must carry around loyalty cards for restaurants, grocery stores, ice cream shops, and even car washes. Chances are, by the time the customer comes back to your place of business, points have expired or they’ve lost the card altogether.
Today’s small business is taking loyalty programs a step further. Thanks to social media, businesses are learning loyalty goes further than a customer returning again and again. By finding ways to encourage customers to “like” a business, all of the friends and family learn about that business. But just as customers found logging into a website to check points after leaving the restaurant inconvenient, customers aren’t too likely to remember to like your business the next time they’re at a computer.
A new service is offering a solution. SpotOn provides users with a card that they can then scan at any member merchant to log their visit. When merchants sign up for the service, SpotOn installs a tablet at each location. Customers can then check in while they’re checking out, making it easy, fun, and convenient.
Whether you choose a service like SpotOn or choose to go it alone, here are five great ways you can bring your loyalty program into the 21st century:
- Reward check-ins. Facebook has a handy tool for rewarding users for checking in on Facebook. Offering 10% off or a free product for a check-in is a great way to show your customers you appreciate their business. It’s also a great way to get your business name and location in front of thousands of potential customers.
- Foursquare. If you’ve claimed your business on Foursquare, specials are a great way to increase your visibility. Offer a buy one, get one free deal exclusive to Foursquare customers. This not only encourages customers to check you out on Foursquare, it will get your business a colorful “special” graphic, which draws even more attention to you.
- Give points for connecting social media. If your loyalty program is trackable via the web, consider encouraging customers to add information about their social media sites. Your developers can also set it up to automatically check in or post a Twitter update every time that customer swipes in at your location–with the customer’s permission, of course.
As social media evolves, businesses will find even more creative ways to connect social media and loyalty reward programs. But today, implementing new social media strategies helps position you to stay ahead of the competition.